Foxtail pine

(Pinus balfouriana)



Pinus balfouriana, the foxtail pine, is a rare high-elevation pine that is endemic to California, United States. It is closely related to the Great Basin and Rocky Mountain bristlecone pines, in the subsection Balfourianae. The two disjunct populations are found in the southern Klamath Mountains (subspecies balfouriana) and the southern Sierra Nevada (subspecies austrina). A small outlying population was reported in southern Oregon, but was proven to have been misidentified. P. balfouriana is a tree to 10–20 m (30–70 ft) tall, exceptionally 35 m (115 ft), with a trunk up to 2 m (7 ft) across. Its leaves are needle-like, in bundles of five (or sometimes four, in the southern Sierra) with a semi-persistent basal sheath, and 2–4 cm (1–1+1⁄2 in) long, deep glossy green on the outer face, and white on the inner faces; they persist for 10–15 years. The cones are 6–11 cm (2+1⁄2–4+1⁄2 in) long, dark purple ripening red-brown, with soft, flexible scales each with a 1-millimeter (1⁄16-inch) central prickle. P. balfouriana occurs in the subalpine forest at an elevation of 1,950–2,750 m (6,400–9,020 ft) in the Klamath Mountains, and at 2,300–3,500 m (7,500–11,500 ft) in the Sierra Nevada. In the Sierra Nevada, Foxtail pines are limited to the area around Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. In both areas, it is often a tree line species.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Coniferophyta
Class: Pinopsida
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